Remember that the "Cletus Calendar" page will tell you what you should be doing this month, and the "Archive" page contains all of the previous months of the "Newsletter and Cletus Calendar".

Books that I have written:

"Beekeeping: A Personal Journey"--You can purchase it here on this site (Book page), in the classroom, Amazon.com or from Walter T. Kelley Bee Supply Company.

"Beekeeping: Questions and Answers"--You can purchase it here on this site (Book page), in the classroom, Amazon.com or from Walter T. Kelley Bee Supply Company.

(Novel series) #1 Tom Richards-Justice Served--You can purchase it in the classroom, Amazon.com or through Kindle. (Now available) (View it on Amazon.com)

(Novel series) #2 Tom Richards-Blood Trail of a Serial Killer--You can purchase it in the classroom, Amazon.com or through Kindle. (Now available) (View it on Amazon.com)

(Novel series) #3 Tom Richards-Voodoo Massacre--You can purchase it in the classroom, Amazon.com or through kindle. (Available in October)

If you would like for me to teach a class for your group in your area, contact me at; dennis@lonestarfarms.net  for details.  

"Please, post your Lone Star Farms Bee club on your Face Book Page, and add our club website to your favorites.

Your host---For Sale--Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Bee Talk

 Dennis,

 For the last month I’ve had a couple of full honey supers in my study.  They had tops under them and on top of them to keep critters out.  Have checked several times and they were fine, but today I looked and found webs throughout the supers along with a few live moths.  I’m scratching my head on this one...I was waiting to extract my honey all at once.  What did I do wrong?  A couple of days ago I restacked the supers to allow some air flow to take moisture out before I extracted.  Was that a mistake?

 Can I put frames full of honey in the freezer, then thaw and extract, straining out the webs and dead larvae.  Rather than extract it after thawing, can I take full frames of honey out of hives and replace them with the freeze treated ones...will the bees clean it up and are they able to eat the honey after it is frozen?  Is one option better than the other, or is the honey lost? Want to take action fast, but not sure which is best. John D

John,

You should always extract or freeze the honey supers within 48 hours of removing them. There are always month eggs on the frames. You can remove a frame of honey and put it immediately in a sealed container, come back later and find wax months because of those eggs. If not wax months then SHB will ruin the frames. You should extract the frames now before you lose everything.

Dennis

Hey, Dennis,

 We live in Bastrop County. Lots of horse mint, sunflowers, and mesquite blossoms this year. We robbed three hives last weekend and got 179 pounds of honey. It's a nice light golden color. 

In other news, after two BAD years of SHB, this year we have seen few. After taking your class, I know the reason. This year, we didn't give the bees any extra space. Only added a super when the the box below it was close to full. SHB problem solved. 

 Two questions: 

1) We use frames with plastic foundation. After extracting honey & letting bees reclaim whatever they could, can I pop those frames back in a super and stick 'em back on hives?

 2) We have two hives that I want to requeen. (Crappy laying pattern and these girls just aren't storing honey. They'll take 1:1 syrup, but I really don't want to do that. Any suggestions on where to get Russin Qs?  Will see you in September and in October class.  David Nobles

 Hello David,

Congrats on your girls bringing in a honey surplus this year. SHB should never be an issue for any "good" manager of bees. Don't give the bees more room than they can take care of and have a hygienic queen.

Russian queens to my knowledge are not available after May until the next year and then you have to order them way in advance.

It would be best to store your used supers/brood boxes under moth crystals. Remember; don't give them more room than they can care for.

See you in class.

Dennis

 Hey Dennis,

Let me tell you the suggestion you had about keeping a "utility" hive was probably by far the best advice you have ever given!  I believe it is second only behind the whole chemical free technique you teach.  I caught a swarm early on this year and decided since I have enough hives, I would make this my utility hive.  Well since I didn't have any five frame boxes, I just used a regular brood box.  Once the brood box was filled, I added a queen excluder and another brood box.  This hive has been my work horse.  When I work my other hives and discover damaged comb, I go to the utility hive, pull out a good frame and put it into my production hive.  If I find a weak hive, I identify the reason why it is weak, add some brood from my utility hive and quickly get it back to a strong hive.  Since I'm not worried about making a honey crop off this hive, I don't feel guilty about sacrificing it.  However, I believe it has paid off more by boosting my other hives and allowing them to produce a good crop.  And I know it has save me big money because it has saved a couple of hives from extinction!  When the utility hive is not being used for boosting other hives, I use it to make my drawn comb.

I guess one question I do have is....Should I take the top brood box off this winter and let them winter in a single box since the queen can't get up to the upper box or should I just leave it on?  I know the top box is generally where the bees spend the winter, however the queen excluder would prevent this.
Or should I reverse the boxes placing the queen and brood on top and the honey box on bottom with a queen excluder in between the boxes? Your advice is appreciated, Jeff

Hello Jeff,

Utility hives are extremely useful and more beekeepers should have one or more in their bee yard.

If in the fall when you work your hives and use everything from your utility hive that you need, see how many frames of bees, brood and food stores that are left. If you have enough of these things left to keep your hive in two brood boxes, then remove the excluder and winter them as a two story hive. If the hive is not strong enough to protect the amount of space or all the frames are not drawn out, then remove one box and winter the hive as a one story making sure there is plenty of food stores to maintain a healthy hive throughout the winter. There's never a need to keep an excluder on the hive during the winter months.

I can't believe it's been 5 years already since you came to your first class.

 Dennis

Hi Dennis,

We'd like to convert our hives to the 9 frame method but have a few questions first (and note that I went thru your books first but didn't find anything specific on this).

Is there a time of year that's best to do this?   The spring flow is over and we might have a smaller fall flow but who knows.  If we take a frame out now (July) from each of the deeps (thinking #1 or #10 which likely are all honey and no brood), do we run the risk of depriving the hive of honey stores for winter if there's no fall flow?  Or is spring best once they come out of hibernation and have less honey anyway and we generally begin feeding them?  This makes more sense to me as can then simply put 9 frame honey supers on once the spring flow gets going.

Plus, our honey supers are currently 10 frames.  If we take one frame out of each full super now and leave them on the hive until extraction, will the bees simply build out the capped comb to fill the space?  That would make extracting in fall easier for sure.  Or should you only put on 9 frame empty supers to start with?  However, we're assuming that all the hive bodies should be either 10 frames or all 9 frames.  For example, if the deeps were 10 frames and the supers 9 frames, they'll be offset to each other. I read this can cause bee congestion and risk of a lot of bridging comb between the offset frames.  Your thoughts?  Thanks, Kathy

Hello Kathy,

You can pull an empty frame from the side wall at any time. If you properly space (use a hand held frame spacing device.) the nine frames, there should not be a burr comb building problem. You should always start with ten frames of foundation so the bees can draw each frame out in a uniform manner. After all ten frames are drawn out you can pull one frame out when it is convenient. The bees will add a little wax to each cell to make it deeper, but not enough to equal the cramped space of ten frames. If the nine frames are properly spaced, bee space will be observed and there will be no burr comb issues. Using nine frames will make the uncapping process much easier because the cells will extend out past the wood frame. The frames in the top box and the bottom box don't change in depth whether you're using nine frames in one box and ten frames in the second box so there should be no worry about congestion or burr comb building between the top bar frame of the bottom box and the bottom bar frame of the top frame.

I hope this helps.

Dennis

 Hi Dennis,

 I have two new issues:

1.  I have been putting sugar water out for the new hives.  One high had sugar ants all in the area under the water.  Will the bees take care of them?  Should I try to get rid of them?  If yes--how?

 2.  I have one hive that is weak.  They got started off with fewer bees.  I opened the hive today--saw the queen working on cells--laying brood I think.  Can I add worker bees to this hive without problems?

 I thought about going to a stronger hive and moving an unhatched frame over.  I don't want to make the weak hive weaker.  How would you advise? I am enjoying watching the bees.   I have gotten stung a few times. Mary Stinson

 Hello Mary,

When you say that you have been putting sugar water out for the bees, what do you mean? Are you putting sugar water in a hive feeder or away from a hive?

What ratio of sugar to water are you using?

Are your hives in one or two brood boxes? Yes, you can add sealed brood to a hive, but you need to figure out first why the one hive is so much weaker. Is it caused by disease, heavy mite load or a badly performing queen? If the problem is caused by one of the first two things, then you don’t want to spread the problem by swapping frames around.

I'm glad that the bees are giving you joy. They are wonderful little creatures.

Dennis

 Hey Dennis,

 This morning I checked my hives and was shocked to find one of my new nuc colonies completely dead.  The screened bottom board had 2 inches of dead bees covering the entire bottom.  Dead bees were falling out of the reduced entrance.  There was no capped brood and no food stores...hive moths had just recently moved in as I found larvae, but no webs yet. Maybe the larvae were just maggots from flies? Wax seemed to be in good shape, nothing unusual.  The other hive on the stand seems to be doing fine.  I dug through the dead bees, some were much more decomposed than others.  Less decomposed ones appear to have their tongues out, but no evidence of mites or other pests.  I did find two queens dead, neither of them was the marked one that came with the nuc in May.  One was larger and lighter than the other one.  There was no swarm cell present on the brood comb.  Dead bees smelled bad, but wax did not have any strong odor.

 Do you think all the bees died in some kind of battle for the hive?  Invaders emptied the hive and left?  The entrance was only 2 1/2 inches wide. Anything I could have done? John Davidhizar

 Hello John,

 Were there any dead bees inside the cells with their butts sticking out?

 Dennis

 Hi Dennis,

None that I noticed.  Come to think of it, as I was burning the frames, I did notice maybe three at most in the 9 frames. John D.

 Hello John,

 Were there any wax capping's mixed with the dead bees on the bottom or on the ground under the hive?

 Follow-up,

Possibly...didn’t look for wax specifically.  There was a lot of debris.  Some exoskeletons, wings, body parts.  There were some squirming larvae among the dead bees and debris.  Could have been from flies or wax moths as there were some ordinary houseflies in there.  I haven’t checked the ground under the hive, could go back and do that. 

John,

With the limited amount of information I have, I think the hive starved. I think that because most of the bees were dead inside the hive, there were dead bees facing inside the cells, there were not a lot of torn capping's laying around that is typical of a hive that has been robbed out and your other hives have shown no symptoms.

Dennis

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Days Gone By